Care Quality Commission to trawl Facebook and Twitter for hospital complaints

The Care Quality Commission has said social networks could be monitored for negative comments about hospitals in a bid to improve care and safety of patients.

In an interview with the Telegraph, CQC chair Peter Wyman said social media such as Facebook and Twitter could be used as “early intelligence” to find potential problems in care.

He added that the regulator needed to move faster when problems arose, and technology would be important in helping this.

Wyman said that there many ways to capture what people are saying: “It could be what people are saying on Facebook, it could be formal patient complaints, it could be what Healthwatch are saying.”

As an example, he said that if a maternity unit had previously been inspected and found to be good, then later on staff and the public were found to be unhappy with the service, it was important to act quickly rather leave mothers and babies at risk.

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Wyman said that the regulator should collect and analyse lots more data about health services.

“A lot of hospitals are using social media in different ways. There is great potential there to capture people’s views,” he said, adding that “early intelligence” was the most important change in his new strategy.

The CQC is currently consulting on its strategy. A budget cut from £249m in the current financial year to £217m for 2019-2020 is likely to mean greater use of data to compensate for a cut in physical inspections. Wyman said this would “help us to target our resources where risk is greatest and improvement is needed”.

Colin Marrs

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